The Spiral of Silence Online: A Conclusion

After nearly two months working on my project, I am finally ready to draw some conclusions, and reflect on my research process. I encountered some unanticipated challenges throughout — such as the thorny survey logic required to design a 2×2 factorial experiment on Qualtrics — to more anticipated ones, such as learning to speak R. In this post, I would like to present some highlights, and outline some of my possible future steps.

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Speaking R (for the Math Averse)

After having collected all of my survey data and downloading it as an Excel file from Qualtric’s survey platform, I imported it into R. What exactly is R, you might be wondering? R is a statistical programming language. If you are familiar with statistical computing, it may help to think of it as something between SPSS and STATA — true statistical software– and Python, a programming language. Before beginning my project, I had no training or experience in programming, and just a basic understanding of statistics. I am also not particularly good at or fond of math. It was not a surprise to me, then, that data analysis was by far the most difficult stage of my project, in part because I had to learn how to work in R as I went.

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